Get to Know the Candidates for Moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the PC(USA)

Moderator Candidates Left to Right: Robert Austell, Randy Branson, Susan Krummel, Neal Presa

RESPONSE LINKS: Robert and HopeNeal and TaraSusan and JamesRandy and Shamaine

UPDATE: Janet Edwards, the fifth candidate for Moderator, recently made the decision to remove her name from the slate in order to care for her husband, Alvise. Read Janet’s Blog Post, Stepping Down from Standing for Moderator of the 220th General Assembly and please hold Janet, Alvise and their community in prayer.

Last week, I gave a little peek into the world of Presbyterian Church (USA) Land and the election of the Moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the PC(USA). To learn about the candidates, the best source is the official  2012 Moderatorial Candidates’ Handbook that has biographical information and responses to questions.  Another good source of information are responses to questions given to the candidates by various organizations and entities. This year I jumped into the fray and, in all fairness, as a former Moderator, it would have been hard for them to say no . . . so a great big thank you to the candidates for indulging me.

I posed the follow questions and gave them a 1,500 character limit for each response.

  1. Knowing that being Moderator/Vice-Moderator will require a great deal of time and energy from you and your community, why give in this way to the Presbyterian Church (USA)?
  2. If someone were to ask you, “Why should I bother going to church?” how would you respond?
  3. Choose one item of business or issue that will be coming up at General Assembly and share your perspective.
  4. What are a few things that most people would never guess about you: interests, adventures or . . .?
  5. WILD CARD: Answer any question you want, one that someone has yet to ask or choose from some that have been asked here:

Below you will find some basic info for each team of candidates, including some of their social media platforms and links to their responses. Enjoy!

Robert Austell (Moderator) and Hope Italiano Lee (Vice-Moderator)

Randy Branson (Moderator) and Shamaine Chambers King (Vice-Moderator)

Susan Krummel (Moderator) and James Sanghyun Lee (Vice-Moderator)

Neal Presa (Moderator) and Tara Spuhler McCabe (Vice-Moderator)

Again, I would like to give a word of personal thanks to all of the candidates for taking the time to respond to my questions and for the overall willingness to answer a call to offer their names for service to and with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Thank you.

PC(USA) Moderator Candidates’ Wildcard Question

For you Presbyterians out there, admit it, you know you are getting all excited about our upcoming General Assembly (July, 2012) just around the corner in Pittsburgh. The exhibit hall schwag, the stylish local host aprons and the endless arguing over what word works best: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet or So (FANBOYS).

Yes, we Presbyterians know how to party like it’s 1955.

In all seriousness, while there is much to critique my denominational family concerning a great many things, there is a genuine sense of family for many of us who attend our biennial national gathering. At our worst we model the full spectrum of  human brokeness and at our best, we allow the Holy Spirit to move in and through our hearts, minds and actiona. It’s a frustratingly wacky family, but it’s my family.

One of the geekiest and loveliest parts of our General Assembly is the election of our Moderator. This is the person who moderates the week-long meeting of roughly 1,000 commissioners and then travels and speaks on behalf of the denomination for the following two years. I held this office from 2008-2010 and, while exhausting beyond belief on so many levels, it was a great honor to serve. It really was. As a denomination without a bishop in our structure, the Moderator has no real political power, but there is a great affection for and openness to the office by more folks than I had ever expected. Easy to dismiss as an irrelevant position – and that reality is clearer at some times more than others – it’s still an important part of our denominational life together.

This year there are five candidates who have declared their intentions to “stand” for Moderator: Rev. Janet Edwards of Pittsburg Presbytery, Rev. Robert M. Austell Jr. of Charlotte Presbytery, Rev. Randy Branson of Palo Duro Presbytery; Rev. Sue Krummel of Great Rivers Presbytery; and Rev. Neal Presa of Elizabeth Presbytery. We do not “run” for the office, as this is not about a campaign for an individual to win, but a calling to for a community to discern. Part of that process is that the candidates answer questions before and during General Assembly from various organizations and entities. It will be completely up to them whether or not they respond and there is a general understanding that all candidates should be included in all public discussions.

This year I am going to pose a few questions to the  candidates as well as to those whom they have selected, should they be elected, to serve as vice-moderator. I will post their responses and links in the next few weeks.

This is where you come in.

One of the questions that I am going to ask them to answer is a wild card: “Answer one question that you would like to answer but have not been asked and/or select from any submitted on this blog post.” So if you have a question that you hope one/all might answer, please leave it in the comment section. It will be totally up to each candidate to choose which and whether they choose one from this pool of questions, but you never know. I will be sending the full slate of my questions to the candidates this weekend, so if you add your contribution soon the more likely it will be answered by one of the candidates.

DISCLAIMER: Just to be clear, I am doing this on my own and not as any official action of any General Assembly entity.